I ate with a man this week who has spent his life writing on the behalf of others. Pulitzer honored him with the most prestigious award in his field, and yet he is honest in his self-hatred.
He can not forgive the man he used to be. That unforgiveness stops faith cold.
Genuinely, he asks, “What is faith? Really.”
Five years ago his daughter was born at 23 weeks gestation and spent six months in the NICU. Every day for weeks on end he did not know if he would ever hold her outside the walls of the hospital.
“Your faith isn’t like Hallmark is it?”
No. It’s not. There are no bows and no anesthesia. My faith is real, but so is the pain of life.
He talked of the book he got from a colleague while his daughter was fighting for life. The colleague had lost a child and determined there was no purpose. He wrote an entire book about the futility of human life.
The silver-haired writer in front of me couldn’t accept it.
“I don’t get it. In my mind, God isn’t an entity. It’s the place where meaning exists.”
The silver-haired man desperately wants answers that give purpose to his pain. It is the only way to hold his fragile world together.
My heart breaks. I want desperately for this man to know hope. I want him to know somehow this crazy spinning ball is not for naught. I want him to know the God of the Universe died so he could be forgiven. I want him to know there is One who cares infinitely about every second of the pain and anguish of watching his one-pound daughter fight for her life.
I have heard too much depravity in these few days. My heart can’t take one more picture. It needs rest. It needs to wake with the hope of the watchman waiting for the morning.
The silver-haired writer does have something I envy. His courage of heart calls me to a deep place. He does not step back from the pain of others. He enters in. He drinks deeply from our shared humanity. And yet he does not have the hope of eternity.
I don’t know how he does it.
I have that hope, the knowledge of the infinite love of God, and my heart still shrinks.
The depths of depravity feel too much for me on this night.
I pray for the silver-haired writer, and I pray for myself. I pray for belief and for courage.